Environmental Portrait GoPro POV at Kane’s Diner in New York

The story: When in New York, I stayed with my good friend Spencer (childhood friend) in Queens. Another of my good childhood friends (Aditiya) mentioned that before I left New York, I had to check out Kane’s diner— a 24-hour diner which they frequently visited.

I didn’t expect to go there– but one of the days when I was walking to the subway, I spotted it. I stepped in, checked the Yelp reviews, and saw that their Steak and Eggs were quite popular. I ordered some.

I also started talking with the waiter–who was extremely friendly. We connected well, and he gave me the best steak & eggs I have ever had (at a reasonable price).

I then remembered my new Ricoh GRD V in my bag, and my GoPro that I brought to do some POV videos during my travels. I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to ask him to take some photos.


GoPro on top of my Ricoh GRD V

At first, I hesitated a bit– but I thought to myself: “I will regret it if I don’t at least ask him to take photos.” So I jumped out of my seat, and approached him if I could take shots. He was open to the idea (and so was the owner next to him) so I started to do a mini portrait session inside the diner.

What I wanted to show through this video is the importance of interacting with your subjects, and making them feel comfortable. Like any portrait session, your subject will be tense and a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. But the more you move him/her around, chat with them, make them laugh–they will loosen up and open up to you.

In this video, I think in the beginning he was quite stiff–but in the end when I got him laughing and whatnot– he opened up. I think it is the last shot of him hunching over the table which was the strongest shot from the series.


I think this was the best photo of the lot

Note that during the session, I take several photos, at different angles. Some with flash and some without flash. Also how I talk to him and make him laugh.

At the end, I also tell him to “loosen up” which I think was a great thing. He jumped around, shrugged his shoulders, and hunched over the table, which abled me to show his power and presence.

Enjoy the video, and hope you find it useful!

Takeaway point: Don’t forget, there is no problem of asking someone to take their portrait. The worst they will say is “no.” The best is that they will say “yes”–and you will be able to connect more on a personal with that other human being, and perhaps even get a decent shot as well!

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  • http://www.aluzinando.com Fernando Callo

    Excellent video as always!

  • http://fo2oz.com/ Waleed Alzuhair

    Very nice & beautiful people.. I keep regretting missing the opportunity to meet you when you were in Dubai, I was 90 minutes away (flight from Riyadh).

  • Thomas van Hemert

    I feel you missed the arc in the background (the window) in the first photos, that could have made a stronger composition, right? Any ways very nice and interesting to see!

  • Chris

    think you chose the right capture as final photo! like the way you dealt with the man, respect! i´ve just been in the beautiful city my self (sadly 3 days after your workshop) and took some photos, too. maybe you want to take a look at them!? feel free to comment (this is no advertisement.. as you can see I am not that active, just wanted to hear an opinion from a pro if possible. kind regards


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  • Peter Solomon Shin

    Nice make!

    Good work on the interaction.

    “Chinese magazine” haha.

    I don’t agree when you state that in candid street photography one is “taking” the photo, in candid photography photogs also make photos.

  • Mike.

    Great video Eric, very useful for anyone who has a problem approaching strangers and asking if they can take a photograph. This is how it’s done!
    Be sure to send him a print.
    I check your blog every day: you work hard.


  • Nik.C

    Great final shot, good choice! I liked the way you shrugged off the casual racism, personally, I would have corrected him.

  • Peter Solomon Shin

    I feel very strongly about the following, this is JUST ME and my opinions. They are not rule but my stance on Street photography:

    A. Street photography as an art form, as personal expression needs no justification.

    B. Street photography is no to be put in moral categories. When one does this they are not doing justice to the art form. It is the category of artful critique not to question the morals of a photographer.

    C. “Profane” being photos have strong characteristics of pornography simply would not be street photography but simply pornography.

    D. Those who usually think that street photogrpahy is wrong (wrong category to begin with) usually connects Street photography with “taking” (in a negative sense) in a photo . And also when one applys the word “taking a soul” (illogical and a mystical notion rooted in Sontag) in a photograph to street photography usually one is judging the motives and intention of that artist, and sees street photography not as art but as morally wrong.

    E. Street photography is an art form, visual poetry, an artistic expression.

    • Horatio Carney

      Street photography is not to be put into moral categories…. unless you deem it pornography?

      • Peter Solomon Shin


        What I wrote above was a thinking out loud, rather than a prescription.

        When I’m thinking of ethics, I’m thinking on the lines of “taking the soul” when photographing described by Sontag and her kool aid drinkers, i.e. Bruce Davidson.

        Street photography as an art form needs no justification, in the sense of “taking a soul” one shouldn’t put an art form into moral categories. When one is painting, I’m not going to say to that person, your painting is wrong, and therefore you should be put in jail or stop doing it all together. That is a categorical mistake.

        Pornography I believe is different–that has moral categories. For example. some of Araki’s work I would find have characteristics of pornography more than the genre of social documentary photography.

        • Horatio Carney

          I get what you are saying, I just don’t think that you exclude nudity in social documentary, that’s all. But I suppose it is all in the purpose. I would hardly say that a guy with a 5DII and boom mike and a couple of porn stars are engaging in the creation of social documentation. Haha. Cheers!

          • Peter Solomon Shin


            Well I think nudity and pornography are totally different. Araki’s stuff falls in the line of the former, but some of his stuff falls in the line of the latter to me, that’s just my opinion or the way I see his photos. I may not fully understand his photographs and purpose, but there are some pictures that have strong characteristics of pornography in Araki’s work, but that’s where explanations are best.

      • Peter Solomon Shin

        Of course with Bruce Davidson (I love his photography, btw) in practice it may be different to what he thinks–meaning what he thinks right now about candid street photography maybe wasn’t the same as what he though back then. He made this clear (unless he changed his views) in a speech he gave at Strand bookstore about his work of art/book “Subway”

        I just get irritated when people like Millner (she has a critique on Winogrand in the SF chronicle) suggest or encourage people to take posed shots (asking permission) instead of candid shots.

        Millner is a Sontag Kool aid drinker. Who puts Winogrand’s work into moral categories.

        Yale professor of Photography Tod Papageorge is right on in his book Core Curriculum: Writings on Photography, he even has a unfinished poem in response to Sontag.

        I think “one” of the reasons why photographers are in fear of taking candid shots is because one of their presuppositions is that it is “wrong.” I would say to that putting “wrong” in the same sentence of candid street photography is a categorical mistake.

        This is the context to those points that you replied to.

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  • Michael Rasmussen

    Hey, great fun. Have you mailed Angelo a print?

  • Brandon Campbell

    You have a great way with people! I love the atmosphere of these shots, they could easily go in some kind of travel magazine. And it’s good to see you still shooting digital every once in a while.

  • discosrule

    love to see the unedited pic straight from camera!

  • http://www.ashraf-faden.com/ Ashraf Faden

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

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  • Geo

    Lived down the street from Kane’s. Been there a few times nice ppl and decent food. Thanks for sharing this.

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